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Archive for the ‘Conflict Management’ Category

1. Sometimes more mess can equal less stress.  Learn how to tolerate the natural chaos of your life and feel happier.

2. As you know, I am a big fan of Gretchen’s Happiness Project.  Today I want to direct you to her tips for dealing with criticism so that it is less stressful and more helpful.

3. An article after the early childhood educator in my heart- Scientific American Mind explains the seriousness of play.

4. Stressing about money?  Who isn’t?  The growing field of behavior economics is looking at the ways in which money drives us crazy.

road-to-happy

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This post was found at The Change Blog.  You can visit the blog here.  This is a longer post than just a list by itself , but definitely worth the read.

How often do we overlook the above aphorism as we repeatedly revisit past mistakes, injuries, and confrontations?  There are times I lie sleepless and recall arguments I had with college sweethearts, high school teachers, and even the grade school bully.  What do I get for my trouble?  Sometimes I experience that all-too-familiar wave of panic, other times an uneasy stomach or a rapidly beating heart; that feeling is almost always accompanied by guilt, resentment, or both.  The experience never benefits me and I’ve reached the point in my life where I need to stop it.

The Problem of Repunishment

We’ve been conditioned from birth to retain our flaws and mistakes in two ways: by example and through confrontation.  The first form of conditioning is by example; we see and hear our parents do it every day.  Your dad forgets to take the trash out after dinner; your mom gets angry and calls him on it.  But instead of saying: “Dear, your forgot the trash”, she says: “You forgot the trash again!  You NEVER remember to take it out!” Now your dad doesn’t deal with the current situation, rather he relives every time he forgot.  He feels guilt and frustration well up, he becomes defensive, and the argument begins.  The second form of conditioning is more direct; someone will be displeased and say: “How many times do I have to tell you…” Then we relive each of our past mistakes and feel the guilt, the pain, and the frustration.

By the time we’re in high school (if not long before), we’ve become so conditioned that we put ourselves through the ringer.  We don’t need anyone else to do it to us; we start repunishing ourselves.  You run late for work after school, again.  Instead of focusing on today’s tardiness, you relive each time you have been late.  The panic and guilt start to build, and build, and build as you revisit each transgression.  When you finally get to work you have rehashed every time you have been late to work, and you re-experience all of the negative energy from each time.

The worst part of the situation, however, is that we don’t let anything go.  We retain all of this emotional poison and add the new stuff.  Then, the NEXT time something happens, we get to revisit it all AGAIN.  And the cycle continues, because we have great memories and consciences.  We make a mistake, we judge ourselves, we find our selves guilty, and we punish ourselves.  No wonder we go through our lives feeling defensive, guilty, and uncertain.

Taking Control Of Our Lives

However, we can take control of our lives and stop this painful cycle.  The process isn’t difficult, but it will be unsettling at first and require some adjustment.  We experience this discomfort as we rebel against what we’ve learned and become accustomed to our entire lives.  The more ingrained our solution becomes, however, the more comfort it provides as we adapt to the new standard.  I’ve outlined below the process I have been using to stop this self punishment.

1. Acknowledge and own the mistake. This not only calms us but gives us some power over the situation.  If something “isn’t our fault”, then how can we take action to correct the situation?  We can’t.  By accepting responsibility for a situation, we make ourselves “response able” (thanks to Steven Covey for this phrase).

2. Identify the mistake. Analyze the situation and see just exactly what caused the undesired outcome.  It could have been a simple typo, it could have been procrastination, it could have been a misunderstanding, it could have been an omission, etc.  Whatever the source of the problem, we need to identify it as clearly and completely as possible.

3. Correct the problem. Implement a new system to avoid omissions, determine where our scheduling technique broke down, etc.  Make sure that, to the best of our ability, that we have implemented a solution that should prevent the same (or a very similar) mistake from recurring.  Be proud of this accomplishment – it enables us to let go of our disappointment, guilt, frustration, fear, anger, etc.

4. Move on. Obviously this is harder than it sounds.  However, our preparation above has led us to a position where we can honestly tell ourselves that we know what happened, we don’t like what happened, and we have fixed the problem that led to it occurring.  By taking both responsibility and action, we create a powerful combination that allows us, with a bit of discipline, to live in the present and not rehash the past.

Final Thoughts

If we find ourselves trying to rehash a past mistake, it is important to STOP.  Observe what we are doing, identify the problem triggering this response, and remind ourselves of the solution we implemented to stop that problem from repeating.  Then focus on our solution and a couple of instances where our solution has led to positive outcomes.  As we train ourselves to make this part of our process, we’ll be pleasantly surprised to find this easier and easier to accomplish.

This post was written by Forrest McDonald.

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This was first published at Marc and Angel Hack Life.

  1. Be Attentive to Others and Never Stop Listening
    Self-centered people are usually unlikable.  When you’re involved in a
    conversation, it’s important to focus more on the other person and less
    on yourself.  If you genuinely concern yourself with others and listen to them closely, you’ll make scores of friends with little effort.  Remember, everybody loves a good listener.
  2. Compliment People Who Deserve It – Go out of your
    way to personally acknowledge and complement the people who have gone
    out of their way to shine.  Everybody likes to hear that their efforts
    are appreciated.
  3. Make Yourself Available and Approachable – If people cannot get a hold of you, or have trouble approaching you, they will forget about you.  Your general availability and accessibility
    to others is extremely important to them.  Always maintain a positive,
    tolerant attitude and keep an open line of communication to those
    around you.
  4. Speak Clearly so People Can Understand You – Most
    people have a very low tolerance for dealing with people they can’t
    understand.  Mystery does not fuel strong relationships and likeability.
  5. Never Try to Be Someone You’re Not – All people have the subconscious ability to detect bullshit
    Even academy award winning actors slip up every now and then.  Fake
    people are not likeable.  Ask yourself this: If you don’t like who you
    really are, why the heck should I like you?
  6. Address People by Their Name – People love the sight and sound of their own name, so make sure you learn to remember names.  Use them respectfully in both oral and written communication.
  7. Mirror the Person You’re Conversing With – You can mirror
    someone by imitating their body language, gestures, movements and
    facial expressions during a one on one conversation.  The other person
    will unconsciously pickup on the familiarity of your mirrored actions,
    which will provide them with an added sense of comfort as they speak
    with you.  The more comfortable you make them feel, the more they will
    enjoy being around you.  
  8. Always Ask to Help… and Help When Asked – Everyone
    appreciates the gift of free assistance and those who supply it. 
    Highly likeable people always spare time for others, regardless of how
    busy their own schedules are.  Remember, helping people get what they
    want is the #1 key to getting what you want.
  9. Never Get Caught Lying – Everybody stretches the
    truth at times, but everyone hates a liar.  Ironic, isn’t it? 
    Regardless, understand that your credibility and likeability will get
    crushed if you are caught telling a lie.
  10. Say “Please” and “Thank You” – These 2 simple
    phrases make demands sound like requests and inject a friendly tone
    into serious conversations.  It can mean the difference between
    sounding rude and sounding genuinely grateful.
  11. Use Positive Language (Body and Verbal) – You can
    use positive language skills to exhibit yourself as a helpful,
    constructive person rather than a destructive, disinterested one.  Positive body language
    involves the act of maintaining eye contact while speaking, using hand
    gestures to accentuate important points, leaning in closer while
    someone else is speaking, smiling, and mirroring the person you’re
    involved in a conversation with.  Positive verbal language
    concentrates on what can be done, suggests helpful choices and
    alternatives, and sounds accommodating and encouraging rather than
    one-dimensionally bureaucratic.
  12. Smile – Everyone likes the sight of a genuine
    smile.  Think about how you feel when a complete stranger looks into
    your eyes and smiles.  Suddenly she doesn’t seem like a stranger
    anymore, does she?  Instead she seems warm and friendly, someone you
    wouldn’t mind being around for a little while longer.
  13. Keep Unqualified Opinions to Yourself – If you
    don’t have all the facts, or you’re uneducated on the topic of
    discussion, it’s in your best interest to spend your time listening. 
    Unqualified opinions just make a person sound foolishly arrogant.
  14. Provide Tangible Value – Don’t just follow in the
    footsteps of everyone else.  Figure out which pieces of the puzzle are
    missing and put them in place.  When you add tangible value, you
    increase your own value in the eyes of others.
  15. Respect Elders, Respect Minors, Respect Everyone
    There are no boundaries or classes that define a group of people that
    deserve to be respected.  Treat everyone with the same level of respect
    you would give to your grandfather and the same level of patience you
    would have with your baby brother.  People will notice your kindness.
  16. Make Frequent Eye Contact… but Don’t Stare – There’s little doubt that eye contact is one of the most captivating
    forms of personal communication.  When executed properly, eye contact
    injects closeness into human interaction, which leads to likeability. 
    The key is to make frequent eye contact without gawking.  If you fail
    to make eye contact you will be seen as insincere and untrustworthy. 
    Likewise, an overbearing stare can make you appear arrogant and
    egotistical.
  17. Don’t Over-Promise… Instead, Over-Deliver – Some
    people habitually make promises they are just barely able to fulfill. 
    They promise perfection and deliver mediocrity.  Sure, they do deliver
    something.  But it’s not inline with the original expectations, so all
    it does is drive negative press.  If you want people to like you,
    forget about making promises and simply over-deliver on everything you
    do.
  18. Stand Up for Your Beliefs Without Promoting Them
    Yes, it is possible to stand up for your beliefs without foisting them
    down someone else’s throat.  Discuss your personal beliefs when someone
    asks about them, but don’t spawn offensive attacks of propaganda on
    unsuspecting victims.  Stand firm by your values and always keep an
    open mind to new information.
  19. Make a Firm Handshake – There is a considerable correlation between the characteristics of a firm handshake (strength, duration, eye contact, etc.) and a positive first impression.
  20. Keep Your Hands Away from Your Face – Putting your
    hands on your face during a conversation tells the other person that
    you’re either bored, negatively judging them, or trying to hide
    something. 
  21. Dress Clean – “Clothes and manners do not make the
    man; but, when he is made, they greatly improve his appearance.”  Henry
    Ward said that, and he knew exactly what he was talking about. 
    People will always judge a book by its cover.  While a stylish dress code is not absolutely necessary, it can drastically alter another person’s perception of you.

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This article was originally posted at ThinkSimpleNow.com.

1. Look Up!!!

The fastest way to change negative feelings is by changing our physical position right away. The easiest way to physically change is by moving our eye position. When we are in a negative state, we are likely looking down. Suddenly looking up (into our visual plane) will interrupt the negative patterns of sinking into the quick sand of bad feelings.

Any sudden physical change will do the trick:

  • Stand up and stretch while letting out an audible sigh.
  • Exaggerate and change your facial expressions.
  • Walk over to a window where there is sunlight.
  • Do 10 jumping jacks.
  • Do a ridiculous dance that pokes fun at you.
  • Massage the back of your neck with one hand while singing happy birthday.

Try this next time you feel a negative or unpleasant thought come up.

2. “What Do You Want?”

Sit down and write down exactly what it is that you want out of the current situation. Your job is to describe the end result you would like to see. Be clear, realistic and fair. Be specific with your description. Including dates of when you would like to see the results.

Once you have this clearly mapped out, and when you find yourself drifting into negative thoughts of what you don’t want, you can shift your focus on this list instead.

Also, when we do this exercise consciously, we’ll come to find that the arbitrary and materialistic things that we thought we wanted, aren’t want we want, after all. Clarity is a beautiful thing.

3. Eliminate: Don’t, Not, No

Words such as Don’t, No, Not, Can’t gets us focused on the things that we don’t want. Language is a powerful thing and can influence our subconscious mind, and ultimately our feelings. When you catch yourself using a negated word, see if you can replace it with another word of opposing meaning. Example: instead of saying “I don’t want war”, say “I want peace”.

4. Finding the Light

Darkness can only be eliminated when there is light (like a lamp, or sunlight). In the same way, negative things can only be replaced by positive things. Remember that regardless of what is happening to us externally, or how bad things appear in our mind, we always have the choice to speak and see things positively.

I know this is harder to do when you’re in midst of heated emotions, but I’m a big believer that there is something to be learned from every situation we encounter. Look for the lesson. Find something about the situation that you’ve gained, whether it’s a material possession or an understanding or a personal growth. Find the light so you can uncover the darkness of your mind.

5. Surrender

Surrender to our ego’s need to be right, to blame, to be spiteful, and to be revengeful. Surrender to the moment. Surrender to the pull to become worked-up by the situation.

Become mindful. Watch your thoughts and learn to separate your thoughts from your own identity. Your thoughts are not you.

Things will play out regardless of whether we become emotional or not. Trust that the universe will work its course and do its job. By not surrendering, we get worked up for nothing, and our body will suffer as a result of it.

6. Circle of Influence

When we are feeling down, it’s easy to be sucked into the downward spiral of bad feelings. It really doesn’t help to be around others complaining about the same issues. It’s counter-productive to getting well.

Instead, find a group of people with a positive outlook. When we are around such a group of people, they will remind us of things we already know deep within us, we can start to recognize the good, and the positives. When we are down, we can draw energy from them in order to rise above the problem and negative state.

In the same way that being around negative people can affect you in a negative way, being around happy and optimistic people can raise our awareness, and help us move out of the un-resourceful state.

7. Gratitude Exercise

Find an uninterrupted space, and bring a notepad and pen with you. List out (in as much detail) everything you are grateful for in your life, either in the past, or present; either experiences, relationships, friendships, opportunities or material possessions. Fill up the page, and use as many pages as you have things to be thankful for. Be sure to thank your heart and your body.

This is a simple, yet underestimated tool to help us focus our attention on what matters. This exercise can also shift our state of mind from one of a lower frequency to that of a higher frequency. It also helps us to gain clarity and to remind ourselves that we have much to be thankful for.

No matter how bad things get, we always, always have things to be grateful for. If anything, we have the opportunity of life, in which we have the freedom to grow, to learn, to help others, to create, to experience, to love.

I’ve also found it particularly effective to add silent meditation for 5-10 minutes prior, and visualizing everything on your gratitude list after the gratitude exercise. Try it for yourself!

8. Meditation

Meditation is training for the mind; to calm the noise in our mental space, to lower our thought count, to draw out inner wisdom, and mostly it helps us to recognize and remain anchored in our divine state.

Regardless of what is happening external to us, we have the capacity to remain centered, in a state of acceptance, of flow, of peace, and of love. When we are in this state, we are rational and have the clarity we need to handle any situation with grace, and with minimal stress on our body.

9. Breathing Relaxation Techniques

Most of us are shallow breathers, and air only stays in the top of our lungs. Deep breathing exercises will get more oxygen into our brains, and into the rest of our body. Try this:

  • Sit up straight in your chair, or stand up.
  • Loosen up clothing, especially if your stomach feels tight.
  • Inhale through your nose. Exhale through your mouth.
  • Put one hand on your abdominal area (over your belly).
  • When you inhale, feel your hand expanding as air is filled up in your diaphragm.
  • When you exhale, feel your hand retracting to the initial placement.
  • Count in your mind the number of inhales and exhales, and gradually level them off such that both take equal counts.
  • Slowly, add a count to your exhale.
  • Keep adding a count to your exhale until the count for exhales doubles that of the count for inhales.
  • Repeat this breathing rhythm for 5 to 10 times.
  • Keep your eyes closed in silence for a few minutes afterwards.

10. Laughter!

We cannot laugh and be upset at the same time. When we make the physical movement required to laugh or smile, we instantly feel light-hearted and joyful.

Try it now: give me that beautiful smile of yours. I want a genuine and large smile now!  How do you feel? Do you feel an instant jolt of joy? Did you temporarily forget about your problems?

List out a series of movies that make you laugh and stock them up at home. Or meet up with a humorous friend who can really get you laughing. For my friend going through the divorce, I prescribed Episode 10 of “Survivor Gabon”, he laughed until his stomach hurt and told me the next day that he slept very well, without once thinking about the negativity that would otherwise trigger anger.

11. Forgiveness

For my little vindictive rascals out there, I know the idea to forgive your ‘enemy’ sounds counter-intuitive. The longer you hold on to the grudge, the more painful emotions you will experience, the more turbulence you are putting on your body, the more damage you are inflicting on your long-term health and wellness.

Unable to forgive someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. And there’s no way around it.

12. Snap a Rubber Band

Wear an elastic/rubber band around your wrist, at all times. Every time you find yourself having a thought that would lead to a downward negative cycle, snap the rubber band. It might sting a little. But this actually trains our mind to avoid triggering those thoughts. Pain is an amazing motivator.

13. Identify and Eliminate Your Triggers

Sit down and brainstorm a list of reminders and activities that will trigger this negative emotion in us. It might be hearing the word ‘divorce’, or someone’s name, or going to a particular restaurant.

Commit to yourself to eliminate the mentioning of these triggers from your life. If we know something will upset us, why would we bother triggering it?

14. Identify What Anger Brings

List all the things that you’ve gained as a result of being angry. When you’re done, go down this list and count the number of positive things that are actually conducive to your wellbeing. By the way, “making the other person suffer and feel pain” does not count as “conducive to your wellbeing”.

This exercise helps us bring more awareness, rationality and clarity into the situation.

15. Seek Closure. Solve the Problem

To the best of your ability, do not drag anything on for the sake of “winning” or “being right”; it’s not healthy for anyone involved.

Just because we surrender to the external events and choose not to give them any more attention, does not mean that we sit back passively to let others step all over us.

Take action that will help you move onto the next step, and closer to resolution. Be proactive and thoughtful. The faster you can get the problem resolved, the quicker you can set yourself free, mentally.

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  1. Take responsibility for keeping the relationship strong.  Don’t be a person who blames his or her partner or friends for the relationship problems.  Take responsibility for the relationship and look for what you can do to improve it.  You’ll feel empowered, and the relationship is likely to improve almost immediately.
  2. Never take the relationship for granted.  In order for relationships to be special, they need constant nurturing.  Relationships suffer when they get put low on the priority list of time and attention.  Focusing on what you want in a relationship is essential to making it happen.
  3. Protect your relationship.  A surefire way to doom a relationship is to discount, belittle, or degrade the other person.  Protect your relationships by building up the other person.
  4. Assume the best.  Whenever there is a question of motivation or intention, assume the best about the other person.  This will help his or her behavior to actually be more positive.
  5. Keep the relationship fresh.  When relationships become stale or boring, they become vulnerable to erosion.  Stay away from “the same old thing” by looking for new and different ways to add life to your relationships.
  6. Notice the good.  It’s very easy to notice what you do not like about a relationship.  That’s almost our nature. It takes real effort to notice what you like.  When you spend more time noticing the positive aspects of the relationship, you’re more likely to see an increase in positive behavior.
  7. Communicate clearly.  I’m convinced most of the fights people have stem from some form of miscommunication.  Take time to really listen and understand what other people say to you.  Don’t react to what you think people mean; ask them what they mean and then formulate a response.
  8. Maintain and protect trust.  So many relationships fall apart after there has been a major violation of trust, such as an affair or other form of dishonesty.  Often hurts in the present, even minor ones, remind us of major traumas in the past and we blow them way out of proportion.  Once a violation of trust has occurred, try to understand why it happened.
  9. Deal with difficult issues.  Whenever you give into another person to avoid a fight, you give away a little of your power.  If you do this over time, you give away a lot of power and begin to resent the relationship.  Avoiding conflict in the short run often has devastating long-term effects.  In a firm but kind way, stick up for what you think is right.  It will help keep the relationship balanced.
  10. Make time for each other.  In our busy lives, time is often the first thing to suffer in our important relationships.  Relationships require real time in order to function.  Many couples who both work and have children often find themselves growing further apart because they have no time together.  When they do spend time together, they often realize how much they really do like each other.  Making your special relationships a “time investment” will pay dividends for years to come.

 

excerpt from the book Change Your Brain, Change Your Life by Daniel G. Amen, M.D.

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This post was written by the author of Zen Habits, a blog that I read and recommend. Visit it here.

“While I can’t claim to be the world’s foremost expert on relationships, I do know that my wife and I have a very strong marriage, and have never been more in love.

I’ve failed at marriage before, but that’s helped me become better at it. I’ve learned the deadly sins of relationships, and how to recognize them and avoid them.

A reader, newly married, asked me to share my tips on how to make a marriage work. I wish I had a magic formula, but here’s a simple list of tips:

  • spend time alone together;
  • appreciate each other;
  • be intimate often;
  • talk and share and give.

But just as important as what you should do is what you shouldn’t do — and I’m sure many of you have stepped into these pitfalls yourselves. I know I have. I’ve learned from my mistakes, and have learned to recognize when I’m making a fatal error, and how to correct it.

If you can avoid these seven things, and focus instead on doing the four things above, you should have a strong relationship. I’m not going to guarantee anything, but I’d give you good odds. 🙂

  1. Resentment. This is a poison that starts as something small (”He didn’t get a new roll of toilet paper” or “She doesn’t wash her dishes after she eats”) and builds up into something big. Resentment is dangerous because it often flies under our radar, so that we don’t even notice we have the resentment, and our partner doesn’t realize that there’s anything wrong. If you ever notice yourself having resentment, you need to address this immediately, before it gets worse. Cut it off while it’s small. There are two good ways to deal with resentment: 1) breathe, and just let it go — accept your partner for who she/he is, faults and all; none of us is perfect; or 2) talk to your partner about it if you cannot accept it, and try to come up with a solution that works for both of you (not just for you); try to talk to them in a non-confrontational way, but in a way that expresses how you feel without being accusatory.
  2. Jealousy. It’s hard to control jealousy if you feel it, I know. It seems to happen by itself, out of our control, unbidden and unwanted. However, jealousy, like resentment, is relationship poison. A little jealousy is fine, but when it gets to a certain level it turns into a need to control your partner, and turns into unnecessary fights, and makes both parties unhappy. If you have problems with jealousy (like I once did), instead of trying to control them it’s important that you examine and deal with the root issue, which is usually insecurity. That insecurity might be tied to your childhood (abandonment by a parent, for example), in a past relationship where you got hurt, or in an incident or incidents in the past of your current relationship.
  3. Unrealistic expectations. Often we have an idea of what our partner should be like. We might expect them to clean up after themselves, to be considerate, to always think of us first, to surprise us, to support us, to always have a smile, to work hard and not be lazy. Not necessarily these expectations, but almost always we have expectations of our partner. Having some expectations is fine — we should expect our partner to be faithful, for example. But sometimes, without realizing it ourselves, we have expectations that are too high to meet. Our partner isn’t perfect — no one is. We can’t expect them to be cheerful and loving every minute of the day — everyone has their moods. We can’t expect them to always think of us, as they will obviously think of themselves or others sometimes too. We can’t expect them to be exactly as we are, as everyone is different. High expectations lead to disappointment and frustration, especially if we do not communicate these expectations. How can we expect our partner to meet these expectations if they don’t know about them? The remedy is to lower your expectations — allow your partner to be himself/herself, and accept and love them for that. What basic expectations we do have, we must communicate clearly.
  4. Not making time. This is a problem with couples who have kids, but also with other couples who get caught up in work or hobbies or friends and family or other passions. Couples who don’t spend time alone together will drift apart. And while spending time together when you’re with the kids or other friends and family is a good thing, it’s important that you have time alone together. Can’t find time with all the things you have going on — work and kids and all the other stuff? Make time. Seriously — make the time. It can be done. I do it — I just make sure that this time with my wife is a priority, and I’ll drop just about anything else to make the time. Get a babysitter, drop a couple commitments, put off work for a day, and go on a date. It doesn’t have to be an expensive date — some time in nature, or exercising together, or watching a DVD and having a home-cooked dinner, are all good options. And when you’re together, make an effort to connect, not just be together.
  5. Lack of communication. This sin affects all the others on this list — it’s been said many times before, but it’s true: good communication is the cornerstone of a good relationship. If you have resentment, you must talk it out rather than let the resentment grow. If you are jealous, you must communicate in an open and honest manner to address your insecurities. If you have expectations of your partner, you must communicate them. If there are any problems whatsoever, you must communicate them and work them out. Communication doesn’t just mean talking or arguing — good communication is honest without being attacking or blaming. Communicate your feelings — being hurt, frustrated, sorry, scared, sad, happy — rather than criticizing. Communicate a desire to work out a solution that works for you both, a compromise, rather than a need for the other person to change. And communicate more than just problems — communicate the good things too (see below for more).
  6. Not showing gratitude. Sometimes there are no real problems in a relationship, such as resentment or jealousy or unrealistic expectations — but there is also no expression of the good things about your partner either. This lack of gratitude and appreciation is just as bad as the problems, because without it your partner will feel like he or she is being taken for granted. Every person wants to be appreciated for all they do. And while you might have some problems with what your partner does (see above), you should also realize that your partner does good things too. Does she wash your dishes or cook you something you like? Does he clean up after you or support you in your job? Take the time to say thank you, and give a hug and kiss. This little expression can go a long way.
  7. Lack of affection. Similarly, everything else can be going right, including the expression of gratitude, but if there is no affection among partners then there is serious trouble. In effect, the relationship is drifting towards a platonic status. That might be better than many relationships that have serious problems, but it’s not a good thing. Affection is important –everyone needs some of it, especially from someone we love. Take the time, every single day, to give affection to your partner. Greet her when she comes home from work with a tight hug. Wake him up with a passionate kiss (who cares about morning breath!). Sneak up behind her and kiss her on the neck. Make out in the movie theater like teen-agers. Caress his back and neck while watching TV. Smile at her often.
  8. Bonus sin: Stubbornness. This wasn’t on my original list but I just thought about it before publishing this post, and had to add it in. Every relationship will have problems and arguments — but it’s important that you learn to work out these problems after cooling down a bit. Unfortunately, many of us are too stubborn to even talk about things. Perhaps we always want to be right. Perhaps we never want to admit that we made a mistake. Perhaps we don’t like to say we’re sorry. Perhaps we don’t like to compromise. I’ve done all of these things — but I’ve learned over the years that this is just childish. When I find myself being stubborn these days, I try to get over this childishness and suck it up and put away my ego and say I’m sorry. Talk about the problem and work it out. Don’t be afraid to be the first one to apologize. Then move past it to better things.”

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by Eddie Corbano

Nearly everyone has experienced a long distance relationship at some point in his life. Most of us have failed to maintain it and have broken up, even though this may have been a promising relationship. Why is that so? What are the common reasons to break up in those long distance relationships and how can you make them work?

To begin with, I was there myself. A good friend of mine gave my e-mail address to his wife’s best friend. Shortly after that she dropped me a line. So we got to know each other. By e-mail.

The great thing about e-mail communication is, there are no games. At least there shouldn’t be. You can present yourself as the person you are. You can truly open up.

So we fell in love just for the persons we were. No masks, no shields. But still 2000 miles apart.

Of course the critical moment was when we first met. Would the picture we had about each other synchronize with the outer picture? If you’ve been dishonest, then you will fail at this point. Luckily it worked out for us.

Long distance relationships can occur for a number of reasons. Here are some of the common scenarios:

  • You’ve met in a chat room or at an online personal site and realized in the end that you were several states far away from each other.
  • You recently graduated college and have moved back to your home town and your boyfriend or girlfriend has continued to stay in the college town.
  • At work you’ve been promoted and sent to a new city for an important program and will be in that location for several months.

Long distance relationships have both, advantages and disadvantages. For some, the distance is a good help to slowly open up to the relationship without the incessant presence of the partner. The romance stays kindled because you aren’t around the person 24/7 seeing various habits and routines that can get repetitive.

In terms of disadvantages, it is very frustrating that there is no intimacy, no hugging, no kissing. At least between the meetings. You will experience difficulties in connecting because you don’t have eye contact and can’t take walks or enjoy dinners out together.

Then again that makes the meetings so much more intense then they would be in a “normal” relationship. It’s the quality, not the quantity.

Long distance relationships can work, but there are some rules and guides you have to follow.

Of course, there is also a very important condition without an long distant relationship can not work:

You must have a true interest in each other. I mean a deep emotional connection, whether you’ve been together before the spacial separation or you’ve met each other through chat/e-mail. I’m afraid a physical attraction is not enough. That’s why most summer vacation affairs fail in the end.

Here are the rules that made my personal long distance relationship work:

1. Have A Relationship Plan For The Future

Know where you are heading. Have a light at the end of the tunnel.

What do you want to accomplish in you partnership? Have goals and a time frame when you want to be together. It is very important that you both have a hope to live for.

I think that this is the most common reason why some long distance relationships don’t work: they don’t have a plan, they just hope it will turn out right, that a miracle is going to happen. Certainly this also means you have to make sacrifices. At least one of you.

Realize that you most likely only have three options: she moves to him, he moves to her or both move to another place. Start talking about it as soon as you realize that you want to be together. The biggest mistake you can make is to hush it up.

2. Meet Regularly

Try to see each other every month at least once. Plan this ahead and include some activities, like town visits, museums, a weekend in a fancy hotel, etc. Make it a celebration, an explosion, something very special!

Soon this short meetings will be something you long for, something that you will align your life at.

Remember, you only get a real connection by touching, feeling and smelling a person. You don’t get scent with email or skype, or that initial wow you feel inside when you see your love.

So do everything you can to meet at least once a month.

3. Use Modern Technologies To Communicate

You need all the help you can get, so why not using the glorious benefits of a modern communication world:

  • Get an e-mail account if you do not have one and write at least one e-mail to each other every day
  • Use Skype or something similar to talk to each other for free. Believe me, it’s awesome watching a movie together while simultaneously talking on Skype
  • Use Instant Messaging (I recommend the Yahoo Messenger)
  • Use digital photographs and videos of your daily activities and send them via e-mail
  • Use a webcam (this I can highly recommend)

Using all this electronic stuff will make it much easier for you both. Imagine how it used to be 100 years ago, when a letter used to take months.

4. Give Yourselves A Free Day

This one-sided communication – I mean with no physical interaction – can sometimes frustrate very intensively. It is possible that this frustration then comes to conflicts between you as an outlet for it. This could lead to misunderstandings that are very difficult to resolve per e-mail. Believe me one thing, you do not want to have a fight over e-mail or phone.

I then found it very helpful to insert a day or two without any communication. What then happens is that you miss each other very intensively and you usually find yourselves at a more higher level than you were before.

If the only way of interaction between you is canceled for a day or two, you will either progress or doubt. In any case you will know where you stand. This is also a good way to test your long distance relationship.

5. Write Extensive And Intimate E-mails

Open yourself up completely. Write about your inner state, what you are feeling, what you dream about, what you hope for. As a rule of guidance: describe in your e-mails your inner state and in your phone-calls your outer state. Writing is more intense than verbal communication and allows you to be more intimate. That will create a tighter bond between you.

The most important thing here is: be honest! Don’t pretend you are someone you are not. Don’t put yourself in a better light. Long distance relationships only have a chance if both are completely honest and congruent.

6. Send A Written Letter Once In A While

Do not underestimate the marvelous feeling, when you look in your letter box and find a letter from your love, open it and see his/her writing. This is a pleasure we often forget about in this modern times. Not to mention that it’s far more romantic.

7. Beware Of Jealousy

Jealousy is a very dangerous thing and can threaten every long distance relationship. Jealousy is commonly a lack of trust and understanding. It very often reveals insecurities and bad experiences in other relationships.

The keyword here is simply: trust. You cannot control and observe your partner, you only can have faith in your relationship and in the things you build together in the times you had. Hold on to that and never give in to that green eyed monster.

Jealousy is one of the most negative and destructive emotions there is! Listen to Shakespeare:

O, beware, my lord, of jealousy
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on; that cuckold lives in bliss
Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger
But, O, what damned minutes tells he o’er
Who dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves!

8. Avoid Dangerous “Situations”

As mentioned before, trust is essential. If you completely trust your partner and also have faith in your relationship, you can pretty much do what you want without endangering your relation. However, I nevertheless recommend avoiding some specific situations. Of course it depends on the person, but I would not date the opposite sex alone, or go to wild parties. Simply avoid temptations that could distract you from each other.

Better safe than sorry!

9. Never Loose Faith

Watch out, you will meet a lot of skepticism. People will tell you that long distance relationships never work, especially those who have had negative experiences about it. Don’t listen to them. People tend to negate things they failed on.

Listen to me: it can definitely work, but you both have to believe it.

10. Always Stay Positive

Always assume that your partner loves you and cares about you. Never assume anything negative, whether you read something in his/her e-mails or you disliked how he/she made a weird comment on something. Don’t interpret to much in it.

The problem with non-face-to-face communication is the lack of facial expression. It is so easy to misinterpret but unfortunately much harder to trust and stay positive.

I assure you, if something was wrong, you will know it.

As you can see, I’m definitely positive about long distance relationships. They expose ongoing life lessons, and prove that love, loyalty, and faith are the vital ingredients to a lasting relationship.

Have faith, have trust and you both will succeed in the end.

This post was first published here by Eddie Corbano.  Special thanks for his allowing me to post this again here. 🙂

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